Boost for Tampines as Geylang stun leaders DPMM
(Hafiz Nor 46, Bruno Castanheira 58)
BRUNEI DPMM 1
(Rafael Ramazotti 28)
At half-time at the Bedok Stadium last night, it looked as though Brunei DPMM were going to take a massive step towards the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title.
After closest challengers Tampines Rovers were held 0-0 by Warriors FC the previous evening, the league leaders found themselves ahead against bottom side Geylang International, courtesy of Rafael Ramazotti's opener and were coasting towards an eight-point gap at the top.
Within 15 minutes of the restart, a stunning revival by the spirited Eagles saw the home side turn the tie on its head with goals by Hafiz Nor and Bruno Castanheira, which were ultimately enough to see them claim a shock 2-1 win.
Worryingly for DPMM, the situation is looking increasingly similar to last year, when they threw away a comfortable lead and were ultimately pipped to the title by the Warriors on the final day of the campaign.
DPMM coach Steve Kean dismissed suggestions his side are feeling the heat.
"We were also in a great position last year but I think, more than anything, we were mentally tired with the international games and it's different this time," said the Scot.
"There's no time to feel sorry for ourselves… When you get a result like this, you are hoping the games come up quick and they are, so I'll be glad when Friday's match (against Warriors) comes.
"I don't think there was a lack of motivation but we switched off very early on in the second half, and the back-four display is the thing we've got to improve on.
"We've still got two games and there's everything to play for, and I'm sure we'll be miles better against Warriors."
Having played two games fewer, the title is now in Tampines' hands.
If they win their remaining four matches, the Stags will be crowned champions.
Last night's tie seemed like a mismatch on paper.
And it looked that way at the start, with the visitors creating the better chances.
DPMM broke the deadlock in the 28th minute, when Ramazotti beat the offside trap to race through before lifting his shot over the onrushing Yazid Yasin.
The hosts hit back immediately after half-time, when Hafiz was released by Shawal Anuar down the right and clinically finished into the bottom corner.
Two minutes before the hour mark, the comeback was completed after a hopeful punt by Hafiz Osman was pounced on by Castanheira, who sent a looping half-volley over a stranded Wardun Yussof.
Geylang coach Jorg Steinebrunner felt the win was just reward.
"This whole season, there has never been a game where you can say the boys just laid down and accepted defeat," said the German.
"In some games, there were many factors that affected why we didn't get a positive result, but you can never deny their work ethic.
"Over the last two games we've got a lot of things right, and to come from behind twice just shows the character of the team."
- TNP MAN OF THE MATCH: Hafiz Nor (Geylang International)